On August 21, 2015 Every1Games hosted the 2nd Annual Autism Friendly Unconference (AFU). AFU aims to bring together autistic and neurodivergent advocates with peers, employers, educators, agencies and government to come to a better understanding of the diversity of the autism spectrum and to inspire innovative services and supports for each other.
- Identifying meaningful issues
- Sharing opinions without judgement
- Listening to the lived experiences of neurodivergent peers
- Building relationships with other autistic adults
Read the Every1Games AFU 2015 Summary, a short event report that focuses on the issues raised specifically acting as barriers to entering post secondary school and a professional career. The summary identifies stigma, funding, parent involvement and access to information as key areas that need to be addressed to improve the quality of life for autistic youth. Though the theme was life after school, the result was truly understanding neurodivergent love, life and learning.
There was a good, frank discussion about romantic relationships and how difficult it is to obtain one.
AFU 2015 resulted in more than talks about jobs and education. Every1Games Administrative Coordinator and Program Developer, Christine Hughes, lead a popular discussion about sex and intimacy. We need to continue to come together to talk openly about experiences with love, sex, romance and companionship in the autism community. We are certainly excited to plan more events with this in mind so if you have any event ideas that you want to share with us, be sure to contact us either on facebook, twitter or our contact page and let us know so that we can make it happen together!
At AFU we also provided spaces where people can relax if feeling overwhelmed. Our multi-sensory lounge and play lounge were well received by participants who spent some time there. We got some great feedback to have even better options next year (which reminds me, thanks to the folks who responded to the survey!). We also had a separated lunch room with a variety of different foods to accommodate allergies and sensory sensitivities.
But it’s not all fun and games. It was agreed that we need to have more engagement from the private sector, government and medical communities. When these groups come to a better understanding of neurodiversity it will reduce serious problems raised at the event including police violence against neurodivergent citizens and doctors refusing to believe neurodivergent people’s self-reports of symptoms.
Thank You. This event was hosted by Every1Games made possible by George Brown College, Ryerson University and Autism Ontario Toronto Chapter and the neurodiverse organizing committee made up of staff and students advocating for themselves and their friends.
The Spec Ops – Video Game Development program is often considered a capstone program at Every1Games. Spec Ops offers creative neurodivergent students a place where they can come and learn to create one of the leading forms of art and entertainment in contemporary society – video games.
When taken as a whole, video game development may seem daunting. The idea of making a video game conjures up a highly stressful environment where some mythical renaissance character does everything from art to programming to make their game. In reality, whole teams come together to contribute to one major project at a time.
This means that the video game industry is one in which all sorts of talents can be nurtured and developed. There are 3D artists, who can work on modelling (creating 3D representations of objects for games), rigging (giving a skeletal structure to the models), and animating (making those same representations come to life). 2D artists may work in creating user interface, textures, and concept art, all of which contribute to the user’s in-game experience. There are programmers, who communicate directly with computers to turn the video game into… well, a game. Games aren’t fun when the opponent doesn’t play back, after all. Designers work to develop the premise, balance, and feel of a game, and sound engineers enrich the world with audio feedback and cues.
All of these roles, and many more, work together to create a game.
That was what we did in Spec Ops 4.
The End-Game (Goals)
Since our program development is an iterative process, the facilitators of Spec Ops once more made it a goal to learn from the past. We kept the most fun, most engaging, most skill-developing parts of previous Spec Ops sessions. Everything else was re-examined and re-evaluated before either being approached from a different angle or being dropped from the curriculum entirely.
To ensure this instance of the program ran smoothly, we had two facilitators at any given point: one artist and one programmer (me!). We also had a variety of support staff on hand, including organizational leads and audio engineers, to help cultivate an interest in other skills related to video game production.
We spent a good deal of time considering what was important for participants to get out of the program. With the range of video game development experiences our participants would have in mind, we came up with the following goals:
- Introduce participants to a variety of different roles in the video game industry, including art, programming, audio, and design.
- Create a low-stress environment that encourages participants to develop higher-level social skills by encouraging self-advocacy and positive interaction.
- Make a video game with maximal contribution from participants and minimal contribution from staff.
We decided the best way to do this was to start off with a relatively heavy ‘class’ load at the beginning, with a shift to emphasize game development in later days.
The idea behind this was to equip participants with rudimentary skills they’d need to contribute to the game in the manner of their choosing. It would also help them identify their strengths and weaknesses while sampling the many roles the video game industry has to offer. Essentially, this structure let them decide what they liked and enjoyed while eliminating roles that were just not for them. As staff, it allowed us to shift and change the curriculum to suit the interests of our participants.
Pre-Production (Early Game Design)
The first two days of Spec Ops were spent getting to know each other and determining the type of game we wanted to make.
We started by naming elements and features that make a game appealing to us. Suggestions ranged from first-person shooters to MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) games, with everything in between considered as well. By the end of this exercise, we had a massive list of potential options. Obviously we couldn’t do everything suggested, so we started paring down the list, finding common elements and eliminating unrealistic goals.
After a few hours of back and forth discussion, voting, and bringing new ideas to the table, we had a loose concept of what we wanted to develop. We went with an endless, arena-style space shooter with a sort of gritty, hopeless feel. We also ideally wanted to heavily emphasize narrative.
By the end of the second day, we even had a name: The Final Marine.
Main Production (The Classroom Experience)
After we had the game concept settled, we spent the next couple of days doing crash-courses in a number of different tools used by industry game developers to make games. We dabbled in Photoshop, Illustrator, 3dsmax, Maya, HTML/CSS, Unity Engine Editor, TFM Music Maker, C#, and other programs.
This let all participants start learning concepts that were totally new to them without pressuring them to immediately make a game. As we hoped, participants began to explore the fields and roles they were interested in.
The added benefit for facilitators was being able to cater courses more specifically to participant interest. It wasn’t long before modelling was front and center stage, a crowd favourite among our participants. Around the same time, programming was more or less dropped from the curriculum entirely.
We worked in groups at various points, fostering discussions and developing our game further. While participants were happy to keep working on their pet projects, they also began to get excited about working on The Final Marine. Some of them were improving the design, while others had already started to model assets they thought might be useful in our game.
Alpha Production (From the Classroom to the Studio)
Work on The Final Marine began in earnest late into our second week.
Participants were given a list of assets that the game would need and decided for themselves what to work on. At this point, it already became apparent who favoured which role; we had about three or four modellers (one of whom is a budding rigger/animator, the others who are content to remain modelling specialists), two 2D art specialists, two game designers, and one lonely programmer.
Most participants were also eager to experiment with two or three roles. Our modellers also showed interest in 2D art, for example. Everyone also enjoyed the design aspect of a game and was willing to discuss and compromise in various ways. The Final Marine began to take shape, with some place-holder assets and concepts to flesh out in the future.
Beta Production (Studio Environment)
By the end of the third week, we moved almost exclusively into game development. We spent very little time doing crash-courses, instead opting to help participants work on their assets on a one-to-one level.
If a participant did not need any guidance, they continued to develop their assets at their own pace. They submitted assets for addition into the game when they were satisfied with their work. During this time, we received many polished assets for integration, including a sky box, environment assets, and a number of different particle effects for use in the game.
This marked a very industrious but quiet time for Spec Ops. Lunch was no longer a welcome break and refreshing chance to socialize, but rather an interruption into their technical skill and asset development.
Did I mention that The Final Marine was starting to look really good?
Gold Production/Release (The Grand Finale)
In major studios, a game getting released is cause for much excitement. The Final Marine was finished one early afternoon in our fourth week. All assets were integrated, the level had been designed and implemented, and the game worked.
Participants were given the rest of the day to reflect and socialize with the team, before a grand unveiling demonstration in the final few hours.
I will close this section with the words of one of our participants:
“I almost don’t believe it. We made a game. We actually made one. We’re game developers now.“
Spec Ops was a huge success.
The participants were both creative and driven, balancing personal needs and desires with the team’s goals throughout. Students learned that there is room for everybody in game development, regardless of their interests or original skill level.
Skill-wise, they universally improved across the board. Participants went from not necessarily knowing what a model was to modelling full characters, and from knowing a lot about video games to knowing about video game production. They worked with industry standard software to make a game in a small studio environment.
With the help of George Brown College’s facilities and facilitators, who were able to help nurture participant interests, we expect a number of the participants will continue to develop the foundation Spec Ops set out for them. Spec Ops has a proven history of growing with its participants.
It might have been The Final Marine, but it won’t be the final step for the participants. It sure won’t be the final Spec Ops.
Game link: coming soon to a postmortem near you!
Note: That last line was fairly melodramatic, but it wasn’t dishonest. It won’t be the final Spec Ops. The next installment of Spec Ops has tentative start dates in late September/early October. Mosey on over to the Programs page for more information!
During playtesting participants will have the opportunity to interact in a professional environment while networking with experienced industry professionals while giving feedback to help improve their game.
About OSnap Games
OSnap! Games was founded in early 2012 by a small group of game developers who were tired of the way modern studios worked.
The shared vision among the founding members was to create a highly competitive video game studio here in Toronto, Ontario that Canada can call its own. We set out to create fun and compelling games in an environment that encourages the creativity and collaboration that a successful video game studio requires. OSnap! Games also recognizes the importance of a strong and loyal fan base and because of that we have a very open line of communication with our community through our forums, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
You may also know the game that OSnap has created Bunnies and Buses
Written by Rocco Briganti
The Spec Ops 3 – Video Game Development program is the capstone program at Every1Games. Creative neurodivergent students from different walks of life finally have a place where they can come and learn about and how to create, one of the leading forms of art and entertainment – video games.
An Upgraded Direction
Spec Ops 3 took the best of the previous programs and learned from past programs. During this program we continued along the path of keeping the class operating as a team would in a studio. We had a clear idea and focus about how the program would run. The Spec Ops 3 team was better equipped now with four facilitators ranging in talents including, but not limited to: animation, programming, modelling and game design. We also had two goals…
- Developing a game and if not, at the very least a portfolio piece for every student.
- Expanding and advancing student’s social skills.
We continued along the familiar path of brainstorming a game first with the class and then dividing everyone up into roles that each student wanted to work on. This time we had some new students with fresh talent. Roles ranged from sound engineers to modellers and animators.
Early Game Design
In our first week we brainstormed with the class on what some of their favourite genres were for video games. After a lot of talking and some back and forth debates we ended up with a Steampunk Robot Escape style game. One of our facilitators, Daniel Mozarowski took the class through Game Design principals and theory as we brainstormed how the game would be played. It was wonderful to watch students who normally appeared to be shy, open up in passionate discussion, conversation and the odd friendly debate about mechanics, story and what makes a game fun.
Once we had everything laid out another one of our Facilitators, John Yau, took the stage creating some concept art for our game. This concept art was created by tasking students with finding images and references that they pictured for the game we had brainstormed and its genre. Throughout the course of the 8 weeks the students used the created piece for inspiration and reference when creating content for the game.
At the very beginning of the program, myself and the rest of the facilitators had made a decision that if creating a market ready game was not achievable during the programs length then we would work on helping students achieve a portfolio piece. During our fourth week we had a discussion about this. Myself and the rest of the team decided that given the varying range of talent and experience, it was best to change our focus. From this point on, we continued the course by focusing on helping each student grow both socially and technically.
Spec Ops Support Package
Spec Ops 3 was not only host to a pool of creative and talented neurodiverse individuals but for this first time ever, host to the parents, friends and family who continuously help drive our students forward beyond the classroom. This was our first time having a parent’s open house style gathering where parents, friends and family could come in and see what everyone had been working on. For the facilitators, this provided the perfect opportunity for some one on one time with student’s family members which might have not otherwise happened.
Overall, this was an overwhelming success. Facilitators got to witness our student’s showing off their creativity to their family members and in turn family members saw what their children were capable of producing. Parents were ecstatic to hear the progress their children have made and taken aback by the work that they had created. Some family members were seeing for the first time all the work that gets put into creating even the most basic of games.
This has been our best Spec Ops program yet at Every1Games with the help of George Brown College facilities. We’ve pushed students farther in honing their skills and prepping for the game development world with the latest industry standard software. Students have shown growth in not only technical skills but social skills as well. Our students continue to inspire and teach us as well with every Spec Ops program outdoing the last. With this mind, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Spec Ops in the fall.
Registration for the next Spec Ops: Video Game Development program opens soon. Make an account to register!
Every1Games invites you to Autism Friendly, a free event that brings together people to share questions, answers, and experiences related to autism.
If you’re autistic or neurodivergent and are willing to share something of your experience, or just want to meet informally with others, come on along. If you have questions or can offer a perspective on what it means to be autistic, join us at George Brown College on Saturday Aug 15 (10:00am – 4:00pm) to participate in Autism Friendly.
Participants of last years AFU were clear that Ontario’s support system needs improvement especially in the area of employment training and ASD sensitivity from co-workers. The autistic youth at the event were very clear, asking employers for guidance and understanding, instead of doubt and low expectations.
This years event aims to provide a more in depth discussion surrounding higher education and employment to identify issues and barriers as well as a plan of action that will lead to a better understanding of the diversity of the autism spectrum.
We again invite autistic self-advocates to come together with their peers, employers, educators, agencies and government to take another step forward in building an autism friendly future.
- Judgment Free
- Breakfast and Lunch
- Mutli-Sensory Lounge
- Raffle Prizes
When you register please suggest a topic or as a question so that together we can address what is most meaningful to you. The most asked questions and suggested topics will become sessions in different rooms. There are 15 sessions available (5, 45 minute sessions in 3 different rooms).
Autism Friendly is an opportunity to grow personally and professionally learning more about working with diversity while supporting autism in the workplace, at school and in the community.
Thank you to Autism Ontario Toronto Chapter for their support helping us bring delicious food for everyone to this great event! Thank you to George Brown College for providing space and support. Thank you to Ryerson University, SSHRC and OCE Social Entrepreneur Fellowship for supporting our outreach initiatives.
The Organizing Committee
The organizing committee is a neurodiverse group of staff who work at Every1Games Professional Services Inc.
What is an Unconference?
An unconference is a “participant driven meeting”. There is no pre-determined speakers or panels. Instead, we collect questions and suggestions from people attending to drive discussion based on what topics participants find most interesting or pertinent.
Who is Coming?
- Neurodivergent Post-Secondary Students and Self Advocates, Families and Wellness Professionals.
- At this event, you represent you and only you.
What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?
George Brown has provided details on various parking lots for the St. James Campus. Here is a link to view the details. If taking the TTC, the closest subway station is Queen Station, you can take the 501 or 504 Street Car from there to Jarvis and Queen St. E. It is a short walk from there. Please visit Google Maps or TTC Trip Planner to recieve directions from your location.
What can/can’t I bring to the event?
You can bring comfort / stim items, questions and perspective. Due to food allergies, please do not bring your own food to the event. If you require accomdation or specific dietary items please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?
You can contact Krystal Twiss at email@example.com with questions about this event.
Every day our neurodiverse teams looks for opportunities to have best learning experiences. Jacob Yorke, a new addition to the Every1Games team, is a George Brown student excelling in 3D modelling. He reached out to some folks who inspire him, bringing experienced industry professionals, our guests, to work with the Every1Games participants in the Panoptic and SpecOPS programs in Toronto.
Welcome Matthew Gibson and Eddie Faria to the Every1Games community!
Join our programs to make sure you do not miss out on the opportunity to hear tips, tricks and experiences that can make a difference in your life and work. Learn 3D modelling and other digital skills with Matthew Gibson and Eddie Faria in a low-anxiety networking environment.
Participants registered for Toronto programs July 20 – 24 will learn from Matthew Gibson.
Visiting July 22, 2015
Matthew is a graduate of the Game Development Program at George Brown College, specializing in modelling and texturing.
He is an experienced freelancer in graphic design, and photography. He also has a diploma in fashion design! Most recently Matthew was a Junior 3D Artist at Blot Interactive. Matthew has found that his previous experiences has given him a large pool of inspiration to pour into his new projects, and he uses the skills he has learned in other fields to add extra dimension to his work.
Click here to see some of Matthew’s work.
Visiting July 28, 2015
Since a young age Eddie Faria had a passion for art, drawing fantastic creatures, Dinosaurs, Comic characters and outer worldly environments. Growing up he also developed a love of video games and computers and was inspired by movies such as Lord of the Rings and always dreamed of a career where he could combine his love for computers and art.
Eddie graduated from Humber College’s 3D Animation Program. Upon graduating Eddie was hired by one of the top video game companies in Toronto, Pseudo Interactive where his career in the video game world took off. Although games wasn’t his first choice he was inspired by working with so many talented and creative people and developed a love of video game art. Since then Eddie has worked at major video game studios across Ontario including Ubisoft, Frozen North productions and Blot interactive. Eddie has worked on a variety of games ranging from mobile to Playstation 4 titles. Eddie also got a chance to realize his dream and work at a film studio, working on the Teletoon TV series Mudpit.
After 8 years in the industry Eddie was given the opportunity to give back and teach all the skills he learned in his career to other aspiring young artists at George Brown College where he works to this day! We are excited to have our guests join us this summer!
Click here to see some of Eddie’s work
Spring is here and sadly, March Break has ended. We played with Google Cardboard to experience virtual reality, learned life lessons with Chappie, and hung out on the set of Much Music. We also met with an awesome leading game development team in their Toronto studio, and more!
If it sounds like we are gloating, its because we are. The staff worked hard to put together an awesome week to explore a variety of media. Though the original plan was to work on computers, something wonderful happened, a mistake was made and we lost the classrooms we booked. Why is that wonderful??? Because it forced us to think outside the box and the result was an unforgettable week filled with new and exciting experiences, friendships and memories!
Day 1 – Making Board Games to Understand Environmental Story Telling
The first day we really spent a lot of our time getting to know each other. That is necessary to work well together, because who wants to work with strangers anyway? We also started making some board games after learning about all forms of media, themes, stories and narratives. Follow us if you are interested because next month we will be hosting a social night at Toronto’s Board Game Cafe, Snakes and Lattes!
Day 2 – Exploring Film and Tech with Google Cardboard Virtual Reality and Chappie at Rainbow Cinemas!
There is an awesome way to experience Virtual Reality on your mobile phone and its called Google Cardboard. Our game developer friends at Game Pill Inc. write more about how it works and what the toy company Mattel has planned for this technology, check out What is Google Cardboard?
If you’ve never been to Rainbow Cinemas, it was a treat. The murals on the wall, the art gallery in the lobby and the friendly staff made our trip to see Chappie more awesome than we imagined. This movie was gangster. No, really. Be warned that the 14A really means a ton of swearing, guns, and adult content. After seeing the movie we had an opportunity to reflect on what we learned about literary themes. Our reflection brought forward the themes of authority, weapons and political power, betrayal, family, religion and technology. Chappie is not just a movie about a robot with a conscience and artificial intelligence, but a reflection on many past and current events happening today. Thank goodness Every1Games is a place for mature teens and young adults – this is not for kids!
The awesomeness continues…
Day 3 – Experiencing Arts and Craft Galleries at the Harbourfront Center
Visual art, glass blowing and metalworks are just a few of the creative arts we explored at the Harbourfront Centre. We also learned next week Disabled Theatre is premiering in Canada! You can read more about it –> here!
Day 4 – Meeting Video Game Developers Get Set Games! Exploring Game Development!
Meeting with local successful teams in the game industry is one of the ways we create low-anxiety networking experiences. Industry Allies like Get Set Games support Every1Games and help bring opportunities to neurodivergent and autistic youth interested in a career in games! (Yes, that is the office dog [below]!).
The awesome team at Get Set Games took the time to answer all our questions about mobile game development and hung out with us playing games and talking industry. Truth be told everyone was more interested in taking turns playing Storm Casters and Mega Run than asking questions, but we certainly learned a lot about the video game industry. Did you know that this development team is made up of friends from George Brown College?
Check out Storm Casters and download it! You won’t regret this game in your library.
And if you are not sick of awesome yet…
Day 5 – Bell Media Building! Exploring Music, Entertainment News and much more
We had the amazing opportunity to have a tour around the Bell Media Building at 299 Queen St W that houses many different live and recorded shows. We had the opportunity to see the set of CP24, BNN, ETalk, The Marilyn Dennis Show and many more. This building makes it easy for celebrities to come to one building and have the opportunity to be on several different shows without leaving , especially if it’s cold outside like it was this winter. We even had a special tour of the control panel room that controls what is on the screens of CP24 at all times. It was an outstanding experience and a great way to wrap up our week!
Thank you to everyone who helped make this March Break amazing, the participants, staff, and our industry allies Get Set Games, George Brown College School of Design, and the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University!
Any ideas how to top this next year!?
Come Join us on Friday, March 27, 2015 @ 6:00 – 9:00 PM
St. James Campus Kings Lounge – 200 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A 3W8
Who is our special guest?
Drekken Pownz is one of Toronto’s leading enthusiasts and driving force behind building Toronto’s E-Sports Community. He will be joining us at EPM for a Q&A session on how E-Sports is/can/will/might chance how we create games now and in the future.
We are also providing
• FREE Food and beverages
• FREE Entry
• Automatic entry into a raffle (prizes still pending). Last year we had 3 50$ EB Games gift cards.
• The perfect FREE excuse to meet some of your fellow GBC developers
If you are interested please RSVP at the EventBrite
You will be automatically entered into the raffle draw at the end of the event by doing so.
Last month Every1Games sponsored and hosted #EatPlayMingle along with the International Game Developers Association from George Brown College. The event was an opportunity for programmers, artists, designers and students to come together and enjoy a night out while networking, playing games and eating pizza. There was a great turn out and a lot of connections were formed.
The attendees had the opportunity to learn more about Every1Games as we surveyed interests from excelling students who’d be interested in mentoring high school students.
They also got to engage with the members of 13AM Games on their process of making their new release Runbow which was created at a Toronto Game Jam and is coming out soon for the WiiU. (Runbow was also showcased at last years Level Up Student Showcase which is coming up again in april). 13AM Games spoke about their experiences making their game but also gave advice to those who want to follow in their footsteps. During the event there was an open opportunity for everyone to have a chance to play Runbow before it’s release.
Every1Games also recruited a team of 10 students who participated at this years Global Game Jam, a world-wide game development event where teams spend 48 consecutive hours developing a game based on a theme. This year 21,000 people in 78 countries participated. Check out the games!
We plan on hosting more #EatPlayMingle events in the future, subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed of all our upcoming events.